Saturday, June 18, 2011

Set and neglect

As soon as I typed in the 'Set and neglect' heading for this little post, I thought "I've used that one before". But it turns out that no, I haven't. Last time it was 'Set and forget', and the plant I blogged about on the previous occasion (also a succulent in a basket) is about three feet away from the one that is in bloom right now, pictured below, no thanks to me once again. I did nothing, your honour, and that's why it's happy.

Traaa daaa, the zygocactus is starting to bloom. Its other name is schlumbergera, but I prefer zygo.

You won't need sunglasses to cope with the dazzle, as there will only be a few flowers this year, but that's more flowers than I was expecting. Its parent was the poor old original zygo that we bought about 15 years ago. It lived out its average lifespan of a dozen or so years, and at the time it faded away I made a very poor job of striking new plants from leaf cuttings taken off the old one. I fussed over them, and they all died.

Well, almost all of them died. Just one cutting seemed to take, and so I changed tack. I decided that the problem was me, and if this plant was going to make it, all I needed to do was put it somewhere semi-shady (such under the evergreen shade of the olive tree) where natural rainfall would keep it just barely watered from the drip-drip off the olive leaves. Apart from that, all it needed from me was a steady course of neglect.

I hadn't bothered about the zygo for at least two years now. It's not out of sight by any means, as its basket swings around above the lid of the compost bin, a place I visit quite frequently, dedicated composter that I am. But I've never so much as looked at the zygo over countless visits to drop off yet another load of vegie scraps. Well, that is until about two weeks ago, when I spotted the unmistakable pinky-apricot hue of the first flower bud swelling up to size.

So now, what do I do? Of course, nothing! Keep on neglecting it and just hope it grows and grows over the coming years.

While I was taking a few photos of the flowers I remembered some great advice that Homer Simpson gave Bart one time, when Bart was disappointed after trying hard at something (for a change) and it didn't turn out well.
Homer: "You had a try and failed, Bart, and so the lesson is: don't try."
What a parent! He might be wrong most of the time, but when it comes to zygocactus culture here in my backyard, Homer was right.


Lani at Edible Urban Garden said...

I remember your previous post and took your advice. I left a cactus that looks like a close relative of a Zygo on the platform (also above the compost heap) that doubles as the kid's cubby house. I have ignored it completely, and it too is coming into flower. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I still have problems heeding that advice! I'm starting to come around, but I keep trying to find "fixes" for my overattention--adding tons of perlite and stuff to my potting soil mixes for that extra drainage, for example. Maybe one day I will realize that water does not equal love--love, and proper plant care, is a many-faceted thing that is different for everyone, and every plant. In the meantime, those plants that put up with my care make me quite happy, especially when they bloom like your zygo/schlumbergera!